Riot

How to protect yourself during a riot

Antifa riots, BLM riots, spring break riots in Miami, riots in Cuba, anti-vaccine passport riots across Europe, South Africa riots, and tomorrow's forecast is going to be more of the same – riots.

How would you protect yourself if you got caught in the middle of a riot where rocks and bottles are being thrown at you? If you're a member of a riot police unit, or perhaps a National Guard soldier quelling unrest, you're going to use an ancient Roman army foot formation called the Testudo, "tortoise," which is a formation where the front row of police officers or soldiers have their riot shields facing the rioters, while the following rows have their shields above their heads to create a protective "roof" against objects raining down upon them. This technique is still taught to riot units worldwide, along with other ancient battle formations.


As a student of history and the martial arts (war arts), one of the techniques that I have taught to civilians all over the world, which comes from directly from my Crime Survival course, is my original technique I named Flexible Shield. I came up with this civilian technique, having been both a riot police officer and a military instructor training National Guard troops for riot operations, because I have seen firsthand how peaceful demonstrations can turn ugly, and just how volatile the "mob mentality" can be. However, it's not just at political rallies or at gatherings where demands are made for social change where things can turn violent, but a brawl can also happen inside a bar, at an amusement park, or anywhere there is a group of hostile people or agitators. When tensions increase, it doesn't take long before objects start flying. If you're not trained to deal with this then you could get nailed in the head by an object.

The name Flexible Shield implies exactly what it means. A coat, jacket, pullover, or beach towel can be used as an improvised shield to protect yourself or someone you're with. That's right, you too can use a modified version of the ancient Testudo shield technique if you ever find yourself caught in the middle of an angry mob throwing small objects in your direction.

riot protection

The woman on the left is holding up her improvised flexible shield to protect herself, along with her friend behind her, from objects being thrown at them during a simulated riot.

Riot defense

The hostile throws an empty plastic bottle (simulating a glass bottle) at the fleeing student, who learns to protect himself with a jacket as a flexible shield, until he gets out of the impact zone.

Once projectiles start flying, you need to get that flexible shield up just above the top of your head and stretch the material tight with the FRONT TOWARD ENEMY. In essence you are creating a net that will stop the airborne object upon contact, causing it either to bounce off the flexible shield or fall straight to the floor once it loses energy upon contact with the cloth. You'll be behind the shield of course, and the person you are protecting will be behind you, as you both make your way to an exit, and then to safety. Yes, you may get hit on a finger or two along the escape route, but it's better than getting struck in the head or torso. Once a rock, frozen plastic water bottle, or a chunk of concrete hits you there, then it's "game over."

I have my civilian self-defense students practice the technique, as one or two role players throw boxing gloves at them. The soft boxing gloves represent hard objects. Then on the next go around they move up to tennis balls being thrown at them, of course with face protection on. For those brave enough to try, they have real glass bottles thrown at them, and that requires wearing face protection, a hard-shell helmet for safety, and expert supervision.

Granted, the odds of the average person ever having to use my Flexible Shield technique is probably one in a million, but lately the odds seem to be increasing with global unrest. It only takes a few minutes to learn, a few minutes to practice, but actually doing it will stay in your mind for a lifetime.

BE A HARD TARGET

Introducing Martial Arts School Listings on Black Belt Mag!
Sign Up Now To Be One Of The First School Listed In Our Database.
SUBSCRIBE TO BLACKBELT MAGAZINE TODAY!
Don't miss a single issue of the worlds largest magazine of martial arts.
Bruce Lee Enter the Dragon
d2e111jq13me73.cloudfront.net / Enter the Dragon/ Warner Bros.
Bruce Lee really did have the Midas touch when it came to training. Most people think Bruce was advanced and complicated, but he was the master of simplicity. He was not worried about doing the jump-up flip spin-around back kick. Not sure if there is one. But by the time you land, Bruce would just throw a simple kick or punch to knock you down as you landed to the ground. However, that is the point. Simplicity is often overlooked because of the coolness and the latest and greatest workout when simplicity produces the most significant effect. Super complicated does not mean superior. This is actually reverse in fact. We see super complex exercises that don’t need to be. Truthfully, if an exercise or method is not straightforward in its approach, then it probably is not good.
Keep Reading Show less
 Anthony Netzler

Anthony Netzler was a top martial artist and MMA fighter.

Anthony Netzler, a 53-year-old martial arts instructor, was sentenced on Monday to 15 years and seven months in prison by a New Zealand court for helping to mastermind the importation of what's been described as the second largest illegal shipment of methamphetamine in the country's history.
Keep Reading Show less
Christine Bannon Rodrigues
Photo Courtesy: Christopher Rappold via Facebook

Black Belt Magazine's 1989 Competitor of the Year Christine Bannon-Rodrigues was promoted to 10th degree black belt in Oki-ryu on December 5th. She is pictured above at the ceremony with her family, including Dante (left), Chris (right), and legendary Team Paul Mitchell coach Don Rodrigues. Chris and Dante were also promoted at the event, achieving the ranks of 6th degree and 2nd degree black belt, respectively. Chris Rappold, the executive director of Team Paul Mitchell who was at the event as a friend of the Rodrigues family, reported that 35 martial artists in total were promoted at the ceremony.

Bannon-Rodrigues is one of the most prolific sport karate competitors of all time, amassing numerous wins throughout her career in forms, weapons, and fighting. She won the coveted women's sparring diamond ring at the Diamond Nationals in 1992, and was inducted into the Diamond Nationals Hall of Fame in 2008. She is a nine-time world champion as recognized by the World Association of Kickboxing Organizations (WAKO). Her success as a competitor led to opportunities in the film industry, where she is still active and has had a phenomenal career performing stunts as Batgirl and acting as a double for Hilary Swank in The Next Karate Kid.

Keep Reading Show less